How to dispose of paint –Tips and tricks

How to dispose of paint

Recently painted the kitchen or living room walls ? Or maybe you’ve finally gotten around to giving the shed a little wood varnish make-over? When you’re doing a bit of colourful DIY work, the paint cans can quickly stack up. Half-used paints may have already collected in your garage for years never to be used again. It’s time for a clear-out! But what do you do with near-empty or even half-full paint cans? How do you safely and responsibly dispose of wall paint correctly? We’ll show you!

Haven’t used it yet? Take it back!

If you haven’t used your paint yet, but decided against a colour or varnish after all, you can simply take it back to the store to be resold. As long as you’ve kept the receipt and are still within the return period, stores have to accept your returned paint cans. 

Give it away – everyone loves freebies!

Just because you don’t want the olive-green wall paint or the wood varnish, doesn’t mean someone else won’t. This means you don’t necessarily have to dispose of the paint!


Before you give away old paint, make sure it’s still in good condition. Paint can be stored for up to 10 years in most cases. Oil-based paints last even longer. It’s best to smell the paint to see if it could be reused. If it has a strong, pungent odour, it may be off and all you can do is trash it.


If it’s in good condition, you could post your free goodies to online classified sites or web forums that accept freebies. There are plenty of recycling websites where people can exchange their goods. Someone will be sure to stick up their hands for it. Alternatively, look for a charity or community project that may be in need of your unused paints.


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Throwing out paint – where can I dispose of paint?

When you’ve decided that the paint has got to go or there are no takers for your free offerings, you should let it dry out before dumping it. That’s a good way of getting rid of cans with very little paint left in them. You can just open them up and leave them to dry in the sun in the yard. You can speed up the drying process by adding cat litter or newspaper to the box. If you find yourself having to get rid of lots of old paint, try a specialist paint hardener that you can buy at DIY stores or online.

Before you throw away paint cans, check local regulations

While it’s always good to know how to dispose of paint, it’s best to check out any local regulations on dumping paint with the household trash. There could also be specialist recycling centres near you that take paint cans. These will ensure that your old paint gets recycled and trashed properly. Some recycling facilities will only accept tin but not plastic cans.